Anxiety may be caused by numerous things, and there is no clear answer to cover all bases. Some people feel anxious because a relationship has broken up, and turn their pain into great writing. On the other hand, there are people that turn their pain into painfully bad writing (that they often think is good), which is why there is no clear answer to cover all bases. In this article, there is a brief discussion on anxiety and its effects on your writing skills.
Al Pacino said a great piece in the Devil’s Advocate
In the movie, “Devil’s Advocate,” Al Pacino talks about pressure. How with some people you apply pressure and they fall apart, and others become sharper and more focused. Anxiety is caused by numerous things, and if it is caused by pressure then it may not be such a bad thing. Pressure can keep you sharp and it can make you focus. It is one of the reasons why some students do better during tests than they do in class--because the pressure is on, which is often amplified by there being a time limit.
Pressure doesn’t tend to have a great effect on the actual writing skills a person has, or the quality of the content they create, but it does often compel a person to work harder than they would have done otherwise. Give a person a deadline, and he or she may work harder because there is a time limit and pressure to complete the work. In short, it is quite possible for anxiety to help your written output because it causes you to write more and work harder. Still, this is only really relevant when anxiety stems from pressure.
How are you affected by anxiety?
Are you the sort of person that phones in ill to work because you have a “stress rash?” Or, do you feel you are quite resilient when it comes to anxiety and worry? Most people cannot make up their mind. They flit between being diabolically emotional to deciding to be a rock for the family. Your writing skills are affected by anxiety, but how they are affected depends on you and your reaction to anxiety.
If you want to delve deeper into the subject, then consider the soldier that handles the horrors of killing with ease, but has serious panic attacks when asked to present in front of an audience. Both are situations where anxiety is present, but both have wildly different outcomes and wildly different effects upon the person.
Have you written whilst feeling anxious?
The best method of finding out is to simply test the theory, though you are unlikely able to make yourself anxious so that you may test your writing skills. Think back to a time when you were very anxious and figure out if your writing skills let you down at the time. Did you struggle to write anything good? There is a high probability that you didn’t write very much at all because anxiousness is often what causes you avoid work at all costs.
What does anxiety mean to you?
Does it mean you are a little stressed, or does it refer to the feeling you get when your family are killed in a train crash? Again, the level of anxiousness you decide to feel is a big part. Are you anxious about getting the work done on time? If that is the case, then your writing skills may actually improve if you are anxious.
Writing with more time does feel more comfortable
If you are anxious about time pressures, then you probably already know that writing when you have more time makes you feel more comfortable and less anxious. If you are looking to avoid feeling anxious, then maybe giving yourself more time will help. If you have a longer and more comfortable window of time in order to complete your written work, then you should not be as anxious about it. The key to this technique is to start as early as possible. If you are the type of person that leaves things until they are due, then you are going to gain no comfort from this tip. You need the discipline to push yourself to start the work early.
Some people cannot function as writers without anxiety and time pressures
There are some people that are simply too restless and distracted to be able to sit in a quiet room and write for hours and hours on end. There are some people that need the motivation of anxiety and time pressures. If this is you, then try setting up your own time pressures and anxiety. Set yourself a time limit for your work, such as insisting that you complete a certain chapter by a certain time tonight. Setting up these smaller manufactured time pressures may help to increase your anxiety level to the point where you can function better as a writer.